Columbus Villain – Smokey Hobbs


>>AND YOU NEED TO REMEMBER, THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT POWER OF PLACE IN ALL OF THIS AS WELL. AS THE TOWN BEGINS TO GROW, IT WILL DEVELOP A VICE DISTRICT. WHICH IN COLUMBUS, MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, IS CALLED THE BADLANDS. IT WAS A MIXED COMMUNITY OF WIDE VARIETY OF ETHIC, RACIAL, NATIONAL GROUPS. PROBABLY THE LORD AND MASTER OF MOST OF THIS IS MADE NAMED ALEXANDER îSMOKEYî HOBBS. HE SHOWS UP IN 1895 IN COLUMBUS AS A BOXER, AMONG OTHER THINGS AND ENDS UP INVOLVED WITH GAMBLING, INVOLVED WITH A WIDE VARIETY OF SALE OF ILLICIT DRUGS OF ONE KIND OR ANOTHER. AND HE’S ARRESTED OVER, AND OVER, AND OVER AGAIN. HE’LL END UP SPENDING SEVEN YEARS IN THE OHIO PENITENTIARY FOR SHOOTING AFFRAY AS THEY SAY IN THE TRADE. BUT, WHEN HE COMES OUT, HE PROMPTLY GETS BACK INTO THE SAME BUSINESS AGAIN. BUT, HE’S THE KIND OF PERSON THAT IF A NEWSPAPER CAN’T FIGURE OUT WHO’S TRYING TO DO SOMETHING EVIL IN TOWN, THEY’LL BLAME IT ON SMOKEY HOBBS.>>WHEN IT DOUBT, BLAME IT ON SMOKEY.>>WHEN IT DOUBT, BLAME IT ON SMOKEY.>>WELL, HE WAS CERTAINLY A HEADLINE GRABBER. SO, YOU KNOW KNEW YOU WERE GONNA PICK UP THE PAPER BECAUSE HE WAS IN MOST OUTRAGEOUS THINGS. JUST, IT WOULD APPEAR IN PRINT. THINGS THAT TODAY YOU’D GO — [ GASPS ] I CAN’T BELIEVE I JUST READ THAT. BUT, HE’S PART OF THE GROUP THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN MARGINALIZED. SMOKEY HIMSELF WAS LISTED ON THE CENSUS AS MULATTO. SMOKEY’S MARRIED AT LEAST THREE TIMES. SO, AMONG HIS OTHER THINGS, HE’S GOTTA BE A LADIES MAN. HIS FIRST MARRIAGE IS, I LOVE THIS, IS MARRIED TO A WOMAN IN A CHURCH BY THE REVEREND JAMES POINDEXTER. SHE LASTS ABOUT A YEAR WITH HIM. AND HE ALWAYS SEEMS TO BE ABLE TO PICK UP ANOTHER WOMAN. HE’S RUNNING THE OPIUM DENS. HE’S RUNNING BROTHELS. HIS BEST CLIENTELE WAS THE FACT THE COLUMBUS BARRACKS, FORT HAYES WERE THERE. IN FACT, HE WINDS UP IN FEDERAL PRISON IN ATLANTA BECAUSE HE HAS NOW VIOLATED WHAT IS ESSENTIALLY A FEDERAL LAW THAT BROTHELS WERE TO BE SO MANY MILES AWAY FROM AN ARMY BASE.>>FIVE.>>FIVE MILES?>>UM-HMM.>>AND HE VIOLATES THAT, SO NOW IT’S A FEDERAL CRIME.>>RIGHT, RIGHT.>>SO, HE SEEMS TO GET A LITTLE BIT OF A SECOND WIND IN PROHIBITION BY THE VERY NATURE OF IT BECAUSE HE CAN AMASS MUCH MORE THAN EVERYTHING ELSE. IN A FUNNY WAY WHAT HIS DOWNFALL WAS, HE WAS THE RULER OF THE SEVENTH WARD. SO, HE WAS THE GO-TO GUY WHEN THE REPUBLICANS, WHO WERE ALWAYS IN OFFICE AT THAT PARTICULAR PERIOD OF TIME, WANTED TO TURN OUT THE VOTES AND GET SOMETHING DONE, HE WAS THE WARD HEALER. AND HE COULD MAKES DEALS AND HE COULD GET PEOPLE TO VOTE. HE COULD PRETTY MUCH TALK HIMSELF INTO ANYTHING. AND THEN THERE WAS THE PAYOFF. THEY WOULDN’T TOUCH HIS VICE. BUT, BY 1912 WHEN GOOD GOVERNMENT CHANGES AND THE WARDS ARE DONE AWAY WITH, HE’S LOST HIS POWERBASE. SO, THERE IS A BIT OF A DECLINE THERE AND THEN YOU KIND OF START TO WATCH IT GO DOWN.>>I THINK AGE AND HEALTH PROBLEMS CATCH UP WITH HIM BY THE 1920s. AND HE REALLY IS NOT HEARD FROM ALL THAT MUCH THROUGHOUT THE 1920s ON. HE WON’T DIE UNTIL APRIL OF 1934.>>BOY, IT SOUNDS LIKE SMOKEY HOBBS KNEW HOW TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF AN OPPORTUNITY AND THE PEOPLE AROUND IT.

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